17 Best Restaurants in National City, CA

Best Restaurants in National City, CA

Allow me to guide you through the culinary landscape of this diverse city, sharing many of  the best restaurants in National City, California.

How this article was written: Our team first analyzed the scores and feedback across major platforms like Google Maps, Yelp, and Trip Advisor, considering not only the ratings but also the consistency of positive feedback. Following this, we conducted interviews with over 30 local residents who have been to these restaurants to gather authentic, first-hand experiences. You can read more about our research process here.

While this list showcases some remarkable restaurants, it's important to note there are many other exceptional dining establishments in National City that are not featured here. Our aim is not just to guide you to popular eateries but to encourage you to venture out and experience the city's diverse culinary landscape for yourself.


"Pho-nomenal" is the only way to describe the culinary experience at a hidden gem in our town, PHOnomenal.

Nestled in a quiet corner, this family-owned and operated restaurant serves a handful of Vietnamese delicacies, ensuring the quality of each dish surpasses your expectations.

The vibrant decor and welcoming atmosphere took me on my first visit.

I decided to try one of their signature dishes, the pho with beef ribs.

The meat was so tender that it fell off the bone and gently dissolved in my mouth.

And not to forget the spicy sauce our waiter recommended, which added a zing to the warm, comforting broth.

But what caught my attention the most was their gigantic spring rolls, loaded with freshness and flavor.

Each bite blended crisp vegetables and succulent meat, a perfect symphony of taste.

Over time, I've grown fond of Vietnamese coffee.

Rich, intense, and aromatic, it's a delightful end to a satisfying meal and the best in town!

So, if you're looking for a cozy place to enjoy a delicious, comforting meal, PHOnomenal is the place to be.

It's not just about the food; it's about the experience.

And trust me, once you've tasted their delectable cuisine, you'll crave more.

PHOnomenal · 811 K Ave, National City, CA 91950, United States
★★★★★ · Restaurant

Cafe Indonesia

Ah, the thrill of finding a hidden gem in your backyard!

That's precisely what happened to me when I discovered Cafe Indonesia.

Stepping into the cafe felt like embarking on a flavorful journey to South-East Asia with a unique Filipino influence.

My adventure began with the Sate Ayam combo, a delightful dish of skewered chicken, paired with Nasi Goreng, an aromatic Indonesian fried rice.

The Rendang, a meat dish usually slow-cooked in coconut milk and spices until tender, presented itself differently here, more like tender shredded beef.

Though this wasn't the authentic Rendang I was accustomed to, it was just as delicious!

The Sambal Goreng Telur was another surprise, as it was unlike the original dish but tasted delicious.

However, the culinary escapade reached its peak with the Es Cendol, a refreshing Indonesian dessert that was the perfect end to my meal.

Beyond the food, the cafe's location added a quaint charm to the experience, akin to Liberty Station but on a smaller scale.

One other thing that stood out at Cafe Indonesia was the helpful and friendly staff.

So, if you ever find yourself in town and are in the mood for a culinary adventure, Cafe Indonesia is worth visiting.

Cafe Indonesia · 41 E 8th St, National City, CA 91950, United States
★★★★★ · Indonesian restaurant

Pilot Food

This city has plenty of dining options, but I've got to admit that Pilot Food is the real deal.

As soon as I walked in, I could tell it differed from your average restaurant.

The atmosphere was brimming with infectious lively energy, and it had that cozy, down-to-earth feel that made you feel at home.

Now, let's talk about the food.

I tried the chicken shawarma fries, and let me tell you. They were nothing short of amazing.

The chicken was succulent, the fries were perfectly crispy, and the portions were generous – a hearty meal.

Also, the food was served hot, just as I liked it.

I also had a chance to try out their gyros, and they were fantastic.

The combination of flavors and textures was a delight to my taste buds.

So, if you're looking for a place with great food and an even better atmosphere, Pilot Food is worth a visit.

It's my new go-to place, and I'd recommend it to anyone.

Pilot Food · 2540 E 18th St, National City, CA 91950, United States
★★★★★ · Restaurant

Pizza Kaiju

Whenever I am in the mood for pizza, I think of only one place - Pizza Kaiju.

It's not just a pizza spot; it's my slice of heaven on earth.

From the moment you step inside, the atmosphere takes you in.

The guy behind the counter?

Always chill, always welcoming.

But let's get to the good part - the pizza.

Trust me when I say Pizza Kaiju's pepperoni is the bomb.

The first bite in, and you know you're in for a treat.

I can't get enough of the blend of flavors and that unique dough.

But let me let you in on my secret favorite - the meat pizza with HotHoney.

It's a game-changer!

Don't let the color of the ranch throw you off - it might be light brown instead of white, but it's the perfect complement to the spicy Hot Honey.

And for a twist, try the Sisig pizza.

You're probably thinking, Sisig on a pizza?

Yes, and it's nothing short of incredible.

It's like a love story between pizza and ranch that your taste buds get to enjoy.

The best part? Pizzakaiju is inside an excellent food court on Market on 8th.

The seating is perfect for a chill hangout with friends or a solo pizza feast.

While you're there, don't forget to check out their merchandise.

It's as on-point as their pizza.

I don't think I can ever get enough of Pizza Kaiju as a pizza lover.

And it's right here, in the heart of our lovely city, which makes it all the more special.

Pizza Kaiju · 41 E 8th St, National City, CA 91950, United States
★★★★★ · Pizza restaurant

Pho Kha

Have you ever been so hungry that you'd willingly wait hours in line for a burger?

Luckily, there's an alternative, and it's just around the corner.

As someone who has lived in San Diego my whole life, I found a gem that beats any burger place: Pho Kha, a Vietnamese restaurant that will make you forget about traditional fast food.

From the moment I walked in, I was greeted by their amiable staff.

Their hospitality is refreshing from the impersonal service I often receive at other restaurants.

What adds to the charm of this place is its delightful menu.

Their Bahn Mi and Vermicelli Bowl are exquisite. These dishes are not just food; they are a gastronomic experience.

The Vermicelli Bowl, in particular, holds a special place in my heart – it's undeniably my favorite in San Diego.

Also, their bowl with beef and shrimp is every bit as delicious as it sounds, each bite a harmonious blend of luscious flavors.

Don’t even get me started on their wings, the best I've ever tasted.

If wings could fly, these would soar into your mouth and leave you craving more.

And if you think their menu is about main courses, wait until you try their stimulating iced coffees.

They're just the perfect pick-me-up on a hot day.

I've been to Pho Kha twice already during my short trips around the city, and I can't wait to visit again.

So, next time you're caught up in the long lines at In-n-Out, remember there's a fantastic Vietnamese spot waiting for you at Pho Kha.

PHO KHA RESTAURANT · 2424 Hoover Ave Suite K, National City, CA 91950, United States
★★★★★ · Vietnamese restaurant

Carnitas Quiroga

One sunny morning, my partner and I were hunting for a place to have breakfast.

We found ourselves before Carnitas Quiroga as if guided by our culinary instincts.

The heavenly aroma wafting through the air was impossible to ignore, so we decided to try it.

Our impromptu decision turned out to be a delightful surprise.

The portions were generous, and the food was delectable.

Not to forget, the nata here is a must-try.

The charm of Carnitas Quiroga doesn't just stop at the food.

The service was top-notch, and the prices were reasonable, matching our expectations.

Over time, I have visited this place about ten times, and the carnitas have never failed to impress me.

If you pass by Carnitas Quiroga, I urge you to indulge your senses.

They truly bring the authentic flavors of Quiroga, a place renowned for its carnitas, to your plate.

Because Carnitas Quiroga, my friends, will be your favorite carnitas destination.

Carnitas Quiroga · 2241 Highland Ave, National City, CA 91950, United States
★★★★★ · Mexican restaurant

Napoleone's Pizza House

Nothing beats the feeling of biting into a perfect slice of pizza after a long day, and for that, there's no place like Napoleone's Pizza House.

Every visit to this pizzeria is like a delightful journey back in time.

It's the vintage ambiance that first hooked me, but their mouth-watering pizzas keep me coming back.

Biting into their pizza is a euphoric experience, especially upon reaching the several layers of cheese and pepperoni.

And the crust?

It elevates the whole pizza experience from excellent to sublime.

Over time, I've discovered that their menu isn't just about pizzas.

The buffalo wings, for instance, are a must-try; the spice level is just right, leaving a warm, inviting heat on your palate.

If wings aren't your thing, their range of traditional pasta will surely hit the spot.

There's something about Napoleone's that feels like coming home.

If you're a fan of sausages, their homemade ones will blow your mind.

Hand-tossed and filled with carefully chosen seasonings, they're a testament to the love and care that goes into every dish.

Napoleone's might be a pizza house, but their lasagna holds a special place in my heart.

Perfectly layered, piping hot, it's comfort food at its finest.

And let's not forget their mushroom sausage pizza - a unique combination that leaves an unforgettable taste.

So, if you're ever in town, do yourself a favor and swing by Napoleone's.

After all, life is too short for bland meals.

At Napoleone's, every dish is an adventure worth taking.

Napoleone’s Pizza House · 619 National City Blvd, National City, CA 91950, United States
★★★★★ · Pizza restaurant

Pepita's Cafe

Ever have one of those meals that take you back?

That's precisely what I get every time I visit Pepita's Cafe.

Pepita's Cafe is a real gem in National City, serving up some of the most homemade-tasting food.

It's become our go-to spot for weekend breakfasts for my wife and me.

Seated on their comfortable outdoor patio, we enjoy their warm hospitality and delightful dishes.

Their attention to detail does not go unnoticed - the food always has that special touch, just like my grandma used to make.

One of our favorite things to order is ham and eggs for me and huevos a la Mexicana for my partner, and let me tell you, their coffee is the perfect complement.

And don't even get me started on their flour tortillas - they are divine!

Pepita's Cafe holds a special place in our hearts.

We are drawn to it for its food and the genuine warmth and welcome we experience every time we visit.

Pepita’s Cafe · 524 Highland Ave, National City, CA 91950, United States
★★★★★ · Mexican restaurant

Donburi Rice Bowls

Oh, where to begin with my beloved Donburi Rice Bowls?

This restaurant consistently serves dishes that leave me counting the days to my next visit.

They have a knack for transforming everyday ingredients into extraordinary flavors that are hard to forget.

My first encounter was with their curry fries.

Having never tried anything quite like it, I was taken aback by the innovative approach to a classic dish.

The appetizer was an immediate ten out of ten.

Meanwhile, the short rib plate, balanced perfectly with rice, macaroni salad, and kimchi, was next in line.

Each bite was flavorful, tender to the touch, and mouthwatering.

However, my most recent discovery, the pork katsu, stole the show.

Priced at an affordable $14, the crisp outer layer preserves the tender, seasoned pork inside, a unique touch not commonly found elsewhere.

It's a dish that fills your stomach without emptying your wallet.

And that's not all!

The plate comes with a side salad and gyozas, both equally satisfying.

As for the drinks, they're worth a try for adventurous palates.

So, if you're looking for a place to enjoy a hearty meal or want to try something new, Donburi Rice Bowls is the place to be.

Donburi Rice Bowls · 41 E 8th St, National City, CA 91950, United States
★★★★★ · Japanese restaurant

Blue Pokē

Lunchtime almost always leads me to Blue Pokē, my favorite local poke shop.

Whenever hunger strikes, I either take a detour to grab a poke bowl straight from the shop or order it on Door Dash for a healthy meal at home.

The first thing you'll notice about Blue Pokē is its welcoming environment.

What keeps me coming back is undoubtedly the fresh and delicious food.

They have a great variety of ingredients that you can choose from for your poke bowl.

You can add an assortment of toppings, and their portion sizes are pretty satisfying.

The price might be a bit steep, but we're talking about seafood here.

You can customize your bowl with items costing just an extra dollar.

If you're in San Diego and craving some delicious poke, make sure to give Blue Pokē a try!

blue pokē · 1325 E Plaza Blvd Ste 103, National City, CA 91950, Verenigde Staten
★★★★★ · Health Food-restaurant

Green Vine Delicatessen

There are days when you wander around town and stumble upon a hidden gem.

One such gem is Green Vine Delicatessen.

It has this relaxing vibe that exudes a warm welcome.

Their menu offers a little of everything: coffee, smoothies, breakfast, and lunch.

One of my favorites is their Guadalajara chilaquiles with red sauce, which never fails to tantalize my tastebuds.

And if you're in the mood for something refreshing, their berry smoothie is a must-try!

One day, I decided to go out of my usual order and tried their Pastrami sandwich with chips.

To my surprise, it was delicious.

It made me realize that I must explore their lunch menu more.

And now, I can't wait to plan my next visit to try their breakfast items.

You can check their full menu and more at Green Vine Delicatessen's website.

Although the place might seem small, its impact is considerable.

Their food is good, and the bread choices for breakfast are impressive.

I once had steak and eggs with a smoothie, which was a divine experience.

Of course, don't miss out on their small pancakes. They're perfectly okay for a light breakfast.

So if you're in the area, do yourself a favor and drop by Green Vine Delicatessen.

Green Vine Delicatessen · 2429 National City Blvd, National City, CA 91950, United States
★★★★★ · Restaurant

Tita's Kitchenette

There's nothing like the comfort of home-cooked meals; at Tita's Kitchenette, it's like celebrating a family feast right at your dining table.

Imagine filling your plate with heaping servings of chicken adobo, dinuguan, or caldereta, your mouth watering at every bite.

This is Filipino fast food, with all dishes perfectly cooked and waiting for your eager tastebuds.

The size of the single or double entrees is astonishing – they know exactly how big a Filipino's appetite can be!

You'll struggle to finish your plate, but the delicious flavors always lure you back in.

And let's not forget about the desserts; halo-halo is a must-try.

We arrived near closing time on my latest visit, yet the service was still superb.

The place was buzzing with energy, with a line out the door, and parking was a breeze, with spots in the rear big enough for our truck.

What makes Tita's Kitchenette truly special is the authentic Filipino food and the essence of Filipino hospitality.

So when you're craving a taste of the Philippines, don't hesitate to stop by Tita's Kitchenette.

Just remember to bring your appetite!

Tita’s Kitchenette · 2720 E Plaza Blvd E, National City, CA 91950, United States
★★★★★ · Filipino restaurant

Pho 7 Cow

I've always been a fan of Vietnamese cuisine, and when it comes to finding the best spot in town, nothing beats Pho 7 Cow.

Nestled in a strip mall in National City, this laid-back restaurant has become a staple in my culinary adventures.

Upon entering, what catches the eye is the cozy and inviting atmosphere.

The staff, always courteous and attentive, seats you immediately, assuring you of a prime dining experience.

The level of efficiency here is impressive.

A glass of cold water lands on your table within minutes of settling in, and your order is taken.

My first visit saw me ordering three dishes.

First was their house specialty beef pho, a steaming bowl of noodle soup with a clean, tasty broth and a delightful hand-made beef meatball.

My second choice was a large beef stew noodle soup, a dish that boasts rich and savory broth.

Lastly, I opted for a combination rice plate with grilled shrimp and filet mignon, as suggested by the waitstaff.

The grilled filet mignon was tender, and the shrimps were large, grilled, and deveined.

Each dish was served piping hot, a testament to their quick service.

And let's not forget the generous plate of fresh bean sprouts, basil, jalapeño, and lime that comes with each order.

They even provide garlic chili oil as a dipping sauce.

Every dish was a hit, and the prices were surprisingly affordable.

Pho 7 Cow is more than just a restaurant - it's a place to experience authentic Vietnamese cuisine at a good pace.

If you're ever in National City looking for a place to eat, Pho 7 Cow should be on your list.

PHO 7 COW · 1025 Highland Ave, National City, CA 91950, Verenigde Staten
★★★★★ · Vietnamees restaurant

Poke Etc.

Whenever I crave a taste of Hawaii, I head to Poke Etc. for a satisfying meal.

Nestled in a simple strip mall, this quaint restaurant offers a true-to-roots Hawaiian dining experience in San Diego.

I've been visiting this spot multiple times, and each time I'm transported back to the beaches of Hawaii.

Their poke bowls are a must-try, filled with fresh, pre-marinated fish that comes closest to tasting like the poke from the Hawaiian islands.

Unlike other places, the poke here is already pre-marinated, which makes a world of difference.

The flavors are rich, soaking right into the tender chunks of fish, offering a burst of tangy, salty, and sweet tastes with every bite.

If you're a poke fan, you won't want to miss out on this.

Other than their star dish, Poke Etc. also offers grilled meats and rice plates, which are pretty hearty, like the Island Bento and the Ohana Bento.

But for me, the poke always steals the show!

My tip for anyone planning a visit is to try their poke first.

However, the place itself is adorned with all sorts of island merchandise.

They sell leis, necklaces, Hawaiian snacks, and even different flavors of Japanese Kit Kats.

It's like walking into a mini Hawaiian marketplace!

Apart from the fantastic food and fabulous decor, what keeps me coming back is the Aloha spirit of the place.

The staff is super friendly, treating every customer like family.

It's my go-to spot for a hearty poke meal in South Bay, San Diego.

And trust me, they don't skimp on the portion sizes.

You won't leave hungry, that's for sure.

Before you leave, do try their Spam Musubi and the Haipia dessert.

These traditional dishes are the perfect end to a Hawaiian feast.

Poke Etc. · 916 E 8th St, National City, CA 91950, United States
★★★★★ · Hawaiian restaurant

Chiroy's Cafe

Upon a typical Saturday morning in National City's heart, I yearned for a hearty brunch.

Like clockwork, I found my steps leading me to a familiar haunt - Chiroy's Cafe.

Simple and unpretentious, this café has a classic charm that keeps me returning for more.

You might think, "Oh, it's just another café serving omelets and tuna melts."

However, Chiroy's goes beyond just the standard fare.

My favorite is their New York steak, a mouthwatering plate that never fails to satisfy.

The flavor sends me back to the bustling streets of the iconic city, a delightful escape from the quiet suburbia I so cherish.

However, if you gravitate more toward seafood, their fish tacos are a must-try.

Medium-sized with a perfect balance of flavors, it promises an explosion of taste with every bite.

Their menu does offer some surprises - and not always the pleasant kind.

But what's a café without coffee, right?

Chiroy's coffee is an experience in itself.

It's strong yet inviting, the perfect brew to start your day, so good that it single-handedly adds another star to my café rating.

Chiroy's Café is a gem hidden amidst the humdrum of National City, offering a taste of tradition in every bite.

So, if you ever find yourself in my town craving a hearty brunch, you know where to go.

Chiroy’s Cafe · 914 E 8th St, National City, CA 91950, United States
★★★★★ · Restaurant

Las Islas Filipinas Restaurant

"Home is where the heart is," as they say, and for me, home is where good food is.

Being a fan of Filipino cuisine, I am always searching for authentic flavors that remind me of my homeland.

And that search led me to an unassuming place in San Diego: Las Islas Filipinas Restaurant.

Let me take you through a typical dining experience at this fantastic spot.

First off, the tunes of karaoke hits fill the air, setting a lively atmosphere reminiscent of Filipino family gatherings.

Onto the food, the eggplant omelet is a must-try.

Deliciously seasoned and perfectly cooked, it always transports me back to my mother's kitchen.

The sizzling seafood plate is another favorite – the aroma makes your mouth water.

Finally, the entertainment doesn't stop at karaoke.

There's also dancing, making each visit a fun-filled journey of Filipino culture and cuisine.

It's these moments that keep me coming back to this restaurant time and time again.

Whether it's the nostalgia for home, the joy of karaoke, or the craving for authentic Filipino cuisine, Las Islas Filipinas Restaurant has become more than just a dining spot for me.

Las Islas Filipinas Restaurant · 933 S Harbison Ave, National City, CA 91950, United States
★★★★★ · Filipino restaurant

Las Uvas Tejuinos La Dona

Among the town's bustling streets, Las Uvas Tejuinos La Diss as a delightful oasis serving the thirst-quenching Tejuino.

I've frequented this place more times than I can count.

The charm of sipping an iced Tejuino on a warm afternoon brings an unmatched sense of calm.

Each sip carries the essence of home; it's the perfect blend of sweet and tangy that you can't find anywhere.

Their menu doesn't stop at Tejuinos, though.

Dessert lovers will feel right at home with their varied offerings.

Though I usually come for the Tejuinos, I can't resist indulging in their delicious dessert items occasionally.

Their Lomo Tortas, in particular, hold a special place in my heart.

The exquisite blend of flavors creates a culinary symphony that leaves you longing for more.

I always gravitate towards Las Uvas Tejuinos La Dona when I need a comforting drink or a delightful dessert.

Las Uvas Tejuinos La Dona · 632 National City Blvd, National City, CA 91950, United States
★★★★★ · Juice shop

Final Thoughts

National City is a diverse culinary haven that caters to various taste buds.

No matter where you choose to dine, you're sure to be met with warm hospitality, exceptional service, and great food.

It's truly a delight to experience the culinary diversity of this city.

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